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UN to act over US hacking claims

The United Nations is to contact the United States about reports that America's National Security Agency (NSA) hacked the world body's internal communications.

The UN emphasised that international treaties protected its offices and all diplomatic missions from interference, spying and eavesdropping.

Its spokesman Farhan Haq said the UN would "reach out" to US officials about the reports of eavesdropping, as it has in the past when such allegations have been raised.

Mr Haq added that "the inviolability of diplomatic missions, including the United Nations and other international organisations, whose functions are protected by the relevant international conventions like the Vienna Convention, has been well-established international law."

The German magazine Der Spiegel reported that documents it obtained from American leaker Edward Snowden showed the NSA secretly monitored the UN's internal video conferencing system by decrypting it last year.

Der Spiegel also said the NSA installed bugs in the European Union's office building in Washington and infiltrated the EU's computer network.

The 1961 Vienna Convention regulates diplomatic issues and status among nations and international organisations. Among other things, it says a host country cannot search diplomatic premises or seize its documents or property. It also says the host government must permit and protect free communication between the diplomats of the mission and their home country.

But wiretapping and eavesdropping have been rampant for decades, most dramatically between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

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